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November 1997
Vol. 1 No. 2 Page 4

Pressure Cooker
by Matthew J. Sause III

I remember my grandmother and my mother using a PRESTO pressure cooker when I was very young. It was a large container with a rubber seal that separated what was inside from what was outside. It had a pressure valve that sat loosely on the top of the lid and a safety valve incorporated into the lid itself as a backup. Even with these safety features I was told of pressure valves rocketing off lids and puncturing holes in roofs, or, cookers exploding - causing injury and even death.

As I grew up I heard of a new and very special type of pressure cooker. It was made famous when the U.S.S. NAUTILUS remained submerged under the Arctic Polar Icecap for 60 days. It was the same variety of pressure cooker that descended to the bottom of the ocean in the U.S.S. THRESHER. This pressure cooker, if you haven't already guessed, is a nuclear reactor.

Another variant of it was in full production at a location just outside of Chernobyl (USSR) Russia. However, the upper level management in charge of this pressure cooker decided that a special test was needed to determine how much productivity they could obtain from its source. They ignored all of the rules, regulations, agreements and manuals. We all know that the results of their experiment resulted in the worst nuclear disaster in history.

The Post Office is a pressure cooker of sorts. It has operated as such since Abraham Lincoln's Postmaster General established free city delivery "in the midst of the Civil War" (See Postal Record 2/96). The safety valve did blow in March 1970. This precipitated the creation of the United States Postal Service as we know it today. Next Column

As with the pressure cooker of a nuclear reactor, such as Chernobyl, the Postal Service has highly motivated and energetic workers who know their job [the fuel rods}. They are supposed to be protected from melt down by the National Agreement, the Manuals M-41 & M-39 and Memoranda of Understanding [control rods of boron or graphite]. There are, also, supervisors [control room operators] who, if they follow the proper procedures, have a smooth running operation. When instructed from above by P.O.O.M.'s, Area Managers, or, the Postmaster General's office [the USSR's equivalent of the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission] to ignore the established methods of operation the entire process can begin to disintegrate. At this point grievances are initiated [warning klaxons sound in the control room]. If allowed to go unchecked by those in direct control these processes can eventually deteriorate to more extreme levels [total melt down].

It would behoove all interested parties to contemplate seriously upon these ideas. Let those who know the job do the work. Anyone who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat the mistakes.

Matthew (Matt) J. Sause III is the V. P. of Branch 139 - Sedalia, Marshall, Clinton, Knob Noster {Whiteman AFB}, MO. Matt has been employed by USPS since 2/6/82. He beame a member of the NALC immediately following his probation. He has held the position of Alt. Stew. for 6 years & Steward for 8 years. In addition to his duty as Steward, for the past 6 years he has been Vice President of Branch 139.

E-mail: msause@dido.com Back To Index

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